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Sense and sensibility

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Introduction

Extension English: Sense and sensibility When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne. When Elinor forms an attachment for the wealthy Edward Ferrars, his family disapproves and separates them. And though Mrs. Jennings tries to match the worthy (and rich) Colonel Brandon to her, Marianne finds the dashing and fiery Willoughby more to her taste. Both relationships are sorely tried. But this is a romance, and through the hardships and heartbreak, true love and a happy ending will find their way for both the sister who is all sense and the one who is all sensibility. Themes Money/Inheritance: Laws surrounding inheritance are what put the Dashwood women in limbo at the beginning of the novel; and their lack of money, compounded with their inability to work, means that they cannot ease their situation, except through marrying well. Money also dictates the eligibility of Elinor and Marianne, as women with larger dowries are of course seen as better prospects for marriage. Gender: There are very definite gender limitations involved in the society Austen describes; women cannot own property, are expected to stay in the home, marry, and be polite and good company. Men can decide whether or not to pursue a career if they have enough money, and have more latitude within society in regards to their behavior and life choices. Gender dictates acceptable roles and behavior, and even in the world of the novel, there is little room to deviate. Expectations vs. reality: This is an especially important theme with regard to Marianne and her mother, whose romantic characters lead them to expect greater drama or trauma than actually appears. ...read more.

Middle

Marianne is torn up by Willoughby's departure, and Elinor begins to question whether Willoughby's intentions were honorable. But, whether Willoughby and Marianne are engaged remains a mystery, as Marianne will not speak of it. Edward comes to visit them at Barton, and is welcomed very warmly as their guest. It is soon apparent that Edward is unhappy, and doesn't show as much affection for Elinor; when they spot a ring he is wearing, with a lock of hair suspiciously similar to Elinor's, even Elinor is baffled. Edward finally forces himself to leave, still seeming distressed. Sir John and Mrs. Jennings soon introduce Mrs. Jennings' other daughter, Mrs. Palmer, and her husband to the family. Mrs. Palmer says that people in town believe that Willoughby and Marianne will soon be married, which puzzles Elinor, as she knows of no such arrangements herself. Elinor and Marianne meet the Middletons' new guests, the Miss Steeles, apparently cousins; they find Miss Steele to be nothing remarkable, while Lucy is very pretty but not much better company. However, the Miss Steeles instantly gain Lady Middleton's admiration by paying endless attention to her obnoxious children. Elinor, unfortunately, becomes the preferred companion of Lucy. Lucy inquires of Mrs. Ferrars, which prompts Elinor to ask about her acquaintance with the Ferrars family; Lucy then reveals that she is secretly engaged to Edward. It turns out that Edward and Lucy knew each other while Edward studied with Lucy's uncle, Mr. Pratt, and have been engaged for some years. Although Elinor is first angry about Edward's secrecy, she soon sees that marrying Lucy will be punishment enough, as she is unpolished, manipulative, and jealous of Edward's high regard for Elinor. The Miss Steeles end up staying at Barton Park for two months. Mrs. Jennings invites Marianne and Elinor to spend the winter with her in London. Marianne is determined to go to see Willoughby, and Elinor decides she must go too, because Marianne needs Elinor's polite guidance. ...read more.

Conclusion

Their meeting is awkward at best; he soon informs them that it is his brother who has been married to Lucy, and not him. Elinor immediately runs from the room, crying out of joy; Edward then senses Elinor's regard for him, and proposes to her that afternoon. Elinor accepts and he gains Mrs. Dashwood's consent to the match. Edward admits that any regard he had for Lucy was formed out of idleness and lack of knowledge; he came to regret the engagement soon after it was formed. After leaving London, Edward received a letter from Lucy saying that she had married his brother Robert, and has not seen her since; thus, he was honorably relieved of the engagement. After receiving the letter, he set out for Barton immediately to see Elinor. Edward will still accept the position at Delaford, although he and Elinor again will not have enough money to live on comfortably. The Colonel visits Barton, and he and Edward become good friends. Edward then becomes reconciled with his family, although he does not regain his inheritance from Robert. His mother even gives her consent for his marriage to Elinor, however much she is displeased by it; she gives them ten thousand pounds, the interest of which will allow them to live comfortably. Edward and Elinor are married at Barton that fall. Mrs. Dashwood and her two remaining daughters spend most of their time at Delaford, both to be near Elinor, and out of the hope that Marianne might accept the Colonel. In the two years that have passed, Marianne has become more mature and more grounded; and she does finally change her mind about the Colonel, and accepts his offer of marriage. The Colonel becomes far more cheerful, and soon Marianne grows to love him as much as she ever loved Willoughby. Mrs. Dashwood remains at Barton with Margaret, now fifteen, much to the delight of Sir John, who retains their company. And Elinor and Marianne both live together at Delaford, and remain good friends with each other and each other's husbands. ...read more.

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